Formatted vs Plain Text: Why every job seeker needs a dual-formatted #resume.

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Having (and utilzing) both a formatted and a plain text résumé  is like a peanut butter cup. Each ingredient is great on their own, but so much better when you have both!

By Uri Allen, CPRW

These days, job seekers are inundated with so much conflicting information and suggestions; it can be hard to figure out what is the best way to format a résumé. Job seekers feel they are often faced with the decision to either make it look attractive or format it for practicality. In reality, every job seeker should have their résumé formatted both ways, both plain text and a fully formatted visually appealing version. A plain text version may not pack the visual punch on paper and a formatted version may look amazing but may cause problems when interfacing with Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) so it is imporant to have both and know when to utilize them. Here are some guidelines to help you decide which version you should be using and when.

Plain Text Versions

A plain text version of the résumé is an integral tool for the job seeker who utilizes online job boards and internet employment search sites. Stripped-down, text only versions allow many online applications and tracking programs to easily parse information and pre-populate fields making the task of filling out these applications much more expeditious and time effective for the job seeker.

Plain text versions are also a preferred choice when emailing a résumé to an employer for a variety of reasons. Many employers will run emailed résumés through parsing or tracking systems and with a plain text version, the job seeker has less worry that the information will be properly scanned or read by these systems. Plain text résumés are also a safe bet since a job seeker can never really be sure of the word processing software employers are using to review emailed résumés. Avoiding sending a document with fancy formatting or stylish fonts and sending a plain text version almost always ensures that the résumé will appear consistently on your screen as it will on the employers screen.

Formatted, Visually Appealing Versions

However, the visually appealing résumé also has a definite place in the job seekers toolkit. The visually appealing, formatted version is great for those face-to-face connections such as networking, job fairs or interviews or when you are snail mailing or faxing the résumé to a potential employer.

There are a few things to remember when creating the visually appealing version. Make sure that the résumé has a good balance of white space; information shouldn’t appear too crowded and if possible, printed on a good quality résumé paper. Make sure to avoid consistency errors and don’t over format the résumé.

With any résumé, formatted or not, it is always a good idea to have the résumé reviewed and critiqued by a certified résumé writer. Often times, a certified résumé writer can identify things you may have missed or overlooked or they make suggestions to improve the résumé further. They are also trained in the most up-to-date methods and techniques to maximize your résumés effectiveness. Visit http://jobcenter.usa.gov/ to locate an employment center nearest you and set up a time to meet with a certified résumé writer.

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Different #Generations in the Workplace

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What bothers me is that most of these articles take on the tone of “How to deal with ____ generation.”  That tone is the problem.  You’re seeking advice on ways to work with a diverse group of people and the tone of the article is negative from the start.  Our perception of an experience comes from the choices we make, and our mindset going into a situation can define that experience as positive or negative.

image via infinityconcepts.net/

image via infinityconcepts.net

Many times, generations get unfairly labeled.  You can’t label an entire group of people born within X number of years and expect those views to reflect in every workplace.  Stereotypes will always be stereotypes.  A stereotype, by its very definition, is “an oversimplified idea of a particular type of person or thing.”  When we oversimplify each other, we begin to oversimplify the human experience and what it means to really get to know one another.  I don’t think I could morally brush someone off because  I believe I think I know about their work ethic simply because I’ve Googled it.

For example, I saw this picture online that said, “My mom says she’s ‘bad at computers because her generation is bad with them,’ and then I remind her Bill Gates is part of her generation.” There are always exceptions! I feel these articles are creating a passive-aggressive tension between generations and other bloggers and I would like it to stop.

I know anecdotal evidence is a flawed argument but my goal is just to make everyone take all of these “Generational Advice” articles with a grain of salt.  I believe if you like what you do, you work hard, and you develop emotional intelligence to mitigate damage to communications- you will most likely not find difficulty in the workplace.  Humor also has this fantastic way of transcending personal factors. I’ve worked in many offices and everyone has had a great sense of humor… thank goodness. You can’t work with people all day long and not find ways to make one another laugh.  (You physically can’t- don’t try it! It would be bad for your health!)

Please don’t take this post to mean a homogenous workplace could be just as good as a diverse workplace.  Perhaps it could, yes, but I truly believe you need diversity in opinions, levels of experience, and varying specialties for an organization to reach its potential.  When it comes to working in an office with multiple generations, I believe the best advice is to just treat people like people.  If you’re new and looking for advice, here:  take a deep breath, smile, and introduce yourself to your coworkers.  You will get to know everyone in time.